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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Keith Williamson

Keith Williamson

Alvarez & MarsalRooms 405-7, 4/FSt. George’s BuildingCentralHong Kong
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Keith Williamson is “a standout individual in the market” who possesses “great experience in the field”. He particularly excels on fraud and corruption investigations and regulatory reviews.

Questions & Answers

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China. Keith’s primary focus has been global investigations, compliance reviews and asset tracing exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory and asset recovery issues across a broad spectrum of industries. He is a chartered accountant and Hong Kong certified public accountant, and has a bachelor’s degree in law.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

I started my career in audit with Deloitte in the UK before moving into forensic accounting upon qualifying as a chartered accountant. I spent 10 years with Deloitte, including three years in Hong Kong, and then spent six years with AlixPartners in London before joining Alvarez & Marsal in 2011 (moving to Asia in 2013). My whole post-audit career has been spent in forensic accounting focused on investigations and has taken me to over 30 different countries around the world.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN INVESTIGATIONS?

Even as a child I always had a very strong sense of right and wrong, and have always wanted to establish the truth in any situation. As an auditor I found that I most enjoyed finding issues that required me to deal with individuals who were trying to conceal the truth, and involved the intellectual challenge of collating and analysing evidence to establish facts. The subsequent discovery of forensic accounting as a potential career provided a perfect opportunity to marry my legal background to my accounting training and passion for establishing the truth.

HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED PRACTISING?

When I first moved into forensic accounting in 1998 most investigations were purely document review and interview-based. The use of email was limited; faxes and paper correspondence dominated; and in some businesses manual accounting ledgers were still maintained. The technology tools and techniques available to assist investigations (and also the fraudster) are now incredibly powerful, and the volume of data that it is necessary to forensically collect and analyse for investigations would have been beyond my comprehension back in 1998. Forensic accounting has now also become a global business, with specialist practitioners in most countries across the world possessing local language skills and cultural awareness. Whereas 20 years ago most accountants would chance their arm at conducting an investigation, the legal and compliance field now recognises the need for the specialist skillsets, training and experience that a forensic accountant brings to the investigations.

WHAT DO CLIENTS LOOK FOR IN AN EFFECTIVE INVESTIGATIONS FORENSIC ACCOUNTANT?

Responsiveness – the ability to react quickly and efficiently to urgent demands and changing circumstances.

Proportionality – the ability to identify the quickest, most cost-effective yet reliable and defensible approach to achieve the client’s investigation objectives.

Good communication – the provision of regular updates on progress, roadblocks, findings, scope changes, fee estimates and next steps, preferably from a senior resource on top of the details and available to provide the client with answers when they need them.

Collaboration – the ability to work seamlessly and harmoniously with other service providers and inhouse client staff.

Constructive recommendations – practical actionable recommendations that will effectively reduce the potential for recurrence of the issues being investigated.

Cost management – structuring the team and work streams in the most cost-efficient but effective manner, preparing and regularly updating budgets and fee estimates to avoid any unexpected surprises.

WHAT MAKES ALVAREZ & MARSAL STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE FIELD?

The experience and quality of its investigation leaders; the dedication, responsiveness and collaborative nature of its teams; the intelligent use of technology; the ability to serve clients seamlessly across the world as one firm with consistent quality and firm culture.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU NOTICING IN THE PRACTICE AREA AT THE MOMENT?

In Asia we are seeing an increased awareness of investors (particularly short sellers), regulators and governments of the prevalence of unreliable financial statements and a resulting increase in the focus on rooting out financial misstatements that distort the market and ultimately cause significant losses for investors.

Corruption investigations have been a hot issue here for several years, and multinational companies are moving from reactive investigations to proactive risk assessments and compliance reviews to ensure their compliance function and financial internal controls, policies and procedures are adequate for preventing and detecting corrupt activity.

WHERE, IN YOUR OPINION, DOES THE FUTURE OF THE PRACTICE AREA LIE?

The intelligent use of technology to reduce investigation costs and increase success is going to be key to investigations in a world where the growth in data is only going to continue exponentially. Skilled data analytics specialists with strong accounting backgrounds will be increasingly critical to the success and cost-effectiveness of investigations. Fraud and corruption are never going to be eliminated, but clients will increasingly demand the smartest, least intrusive, and most timely and cost-effective resolution of investigations.

WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?

Always treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.

Global Leader

Asset Recovery Experts 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is highly regarded for his outstanding work on asset recovery matters, with sources noting he has "years of experience at his fingertips".

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 20 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor for a Chinese state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: pre-acquisition financial due diligence on a proposed Chinese acquisition by a US private equity firm; a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; and investigations of alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Additional work includes: advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is very highly regarded for his asset recovery practice. He has experience of working with numerous sectors, such as healthcare, education, oil and gas and technology.

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 20 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor for a Chinese state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: pre-acquisition financial due diligence on a proposed Chinese acquisition by a US private equity firm; a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; and investigations of alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Additional work includes: advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is “highly recommended” by peers thanks to his vast experience across numerous industries including leisure, financial institutions, pharma, oil and gas, and technology.

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 20 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor for a Chinese state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: pre-acquisition financial due diligence on a proposed Chinese acquisition by a US private equity firm; a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; and investigations of alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Additional work includes: advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Keith Williamson is “a standout individual in the market” who possesses “great experience in the field”. He particularly excels on fraud and corruption investigations and regulatory reviews.

Biography

Keith Williamson is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal and leads the firm’s disputes and investigations team in Hong Kong and China.

He brings more than 20 years of forensic and investigative accounting experience, specialising in investigations of fraud, corruption (US FCPA / UK Bribery Act) and regulatory issues, asset tracing and recovery, and litigation support and expert witness services for disputes.

Mr Williamson has mostly been involved in large-scale global investigations, asset tracing exercises and litigation support exercises on behalf of US, European and Asian-owned corporations facing fraud, corruption, regulatory, asset recovery and dispute issues across a broad spectrum of industries, including oil and gas, minerals and mining, healthcare/pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, retail, leisure, financial institutions, education, media and technology.

He has presented evidence and been cross-examined in legal proceedings relating to forensic accounting matters.

Most recently at A&M, Mr Williamson has been investigating allegations of US FCPA violations in China and the Asia-Pacific region, performing forensic accounting reviews of alleged fraudulent activity in Hong Kong, China, Singapore and Malaysia, performing an investigation and financial restatement exercise for the Asia operations of a listed European company, acting as a compliance monitor for a Chinese state-owned enterprise on behalf of a multilateral development bank, and leading an anti-money laundering review of a Macanese institution.

Other notable assignments in Asia include: pre-acquisition financial due diligence on a proposed Chinese acquisition by a US private equity firm; a US FCPA investigation of a global company’s activities across Asia, including China and Singapore; leading a corporate inspection of financial records in the Philippines pursuant to a legal dispute in Hong Kong and the Philippines; and investigations of alleged fraud and corruption in the China operations of multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Additional work includes: advising and assisting a non-governmental organisation with investigations of the alleged misappropriation of grant funds in Asia and Africa; and managing a team of accountants and lawyers administering and investigating the assets comprising the multi-billion dollar estate of a Hong Kong businessman involved in property development.

Before joining A&M, Mr Williamson spent six years with AlixPartners in London, most recently serving as managing director, conducting investigations and anti-corruption compliance reviews and providing dispute services across Europe, Africa and the Middle East. He also spent 10 years with Deloitte’s forensic and dispute services team, including three years working in their Hong Kong office.

Mr Williamson earned a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Birmingham. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

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